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I love the sound of the 12 string guitar It has a full sound that works well for both Blues and Spanish (Tejano music) The state of Texas has both. Texas, like Mississippi, is one of those states that has incredible music and incredibly ugly politics.

The 12 string guitar came from Mexico It was used by street singers. Lydia Mendoza was one of the most talented and popular singers. Mal Hombre - loosely translated - Bad or Evil Man

Here's another clip:

It has been postulated that African Americans Blues Musicians heard these musicians and picked up the 12 string guitar. Leadbelly was the most popular and well known. He was able to obtain a governor's pardon, not once but twice!

Here is a "newsreel" with John L. Lomax.

Originally posted to Jamesleo on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by An Ear for Music.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

    by Jamesleo on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:09:48 PM PDT

  •  Glen Campbell was great on the 12 string guitar. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is sad that he now has Alzheimer's disease.

    But the most awesome performance on the 12 string I ever saw was Leo Kottke playing Vaseline Machine Gun.  Somebody described him as "relentless."

    This was recorded in the early 1970s.  He is in his 60s now and can no longer play like this due to some arthritis in his hands.  He still plays and performs, but not at this frenetic pace.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:17:02 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I played a 12-string for a good while, but I had an awful time keeping it in perfect tune, alas.  

    But in tune, damn if it doesn't have a full sound.

    •  The Old Guilds (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NotGeorgeWill, Timaeus

      from the 60's and 70's have nice tuning machines and 2 truss rods. Leadbelly played a "Sears and Roebuck" Stella that had no truss rods. He kept it in "C": tuning. Lydia Mendoza's instrument was not much better. But both of them produced incredible music

      a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

      by Jamesleo on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:32:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Traumatized by the 12-string . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I was in a band in college and one summer we decided to record a few tracks in a studio.  Our lead guitarist decided the day of the recording session that he really wanted to get a 12-string (he had been on a musical bender listening to the Byrds, if I recall).  

      We wasted 30 minutes of studio time with him just getting that darned guitar in tune.  Needless to say the recording session only went downhill from there.

      Love the sound, but any time I think of the 12 string, I will remember that dark moment of my younger life.

  •  One of the great lost 12-stringers... (0+ / 0-)

    Toulouse Engelhardt live in Berkeley, performing "Fire in O'Doodlee's Popcorn Factory" for your pluckin' pleasure:

    A few months ago Mr Engelhardt released "Toullousions," a forty-year remastered retrospective of tunage going all the way back to his days on Tacoma Records, chosen by critics and fans--"O'Doodlee's" was selected to lead off the collection.  If "onomatopoetic" can ever be applied to instrumental music, it fits here.

    It ain't free speech if it takes cash money.

    by Uncle Igor on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 11:41:09 PM PDT

  •  I still play a Gibson 12 that I bought in 1967. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's pretty dinged-up with dents and cracked varnish, but it tunes pretty quickly with the new electronic tuners and still has a very nice sound. I wouldn't want a guitar that looks better than I (at 67) do, so I'll stick with it. It gets played weekly in our church Praise Band. We saw Leo Kottke again a few years back, and it is still quite the experience. My playing is bush league by comparison.

    •  Those 60 Gibson 12 strings (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      were incredible instruments  Guard that with your life! The "cracks" you speak of , have they penetrated into the wood? That could be a problem.

      a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.

      by Jamesleo on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:56:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The cracks are only in the varnish. I can see that (0+ / 0-)

        air has gotten between the wood and the varnish in many places, but the cracks don't all run parallel to the wood grain. This is, I believe a B-35. It has a trapeze tailpiece. It sat in a box for about 20 years, and when I got back to using it, I found a strut had come unglued and the face of the guitar had a bow in it. Once that was reglued, it was fine. I'm using an L.R. Boggs pickup - the original disappeared long ago. Thanks for your comment.

  •  Got 2 (0+ / 0-)

    A Guild F212XL and a Ric 330/12. They stay amazingly in tune.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:54:39 AM PDT

  •  The Mexican 12-string (0+ / 0-)

    is called a bajo sexto. It's actually a 10-string, since they remove the lower course, and it's used as a rhythm instrument in Norteño, or Tejano, music. Here's an example, sorry for the quality.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 07:41:05 AM PDT

  •  Republished to (0+ / 0-)

    " can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem." Mitt Romney

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 08:30:19 AM PDT

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